The Next UN Security Council

By Elliot Jager
Thursday, November 4, 2010

Israelis are not alone in rolling their eyes at the mere mention of the United Nations. Thanks to blocs of like-minded nations with interlocking leaderships and overlapping interests—the 53-member African Union, the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the 118-member "non-aligned" movement—an anti-Western and anti-Zionist tyranny of the majority has long been assured.

That's in the General Assembly. What about the 15-member Security Council, which has both more power and greater legitimacy than other UN bodies? In the Council's early years, when the democracies led by the United States presented a formidable front, most of the vetoes were cast by Soviet Russia.  Since the 1980s, the U.S. has had to be the major exerciser of the veto, blocking, among other things, dozens of one-sided anti-Israel resolutions.

And, in the short to medium term, things can only get worse. The Council now has five veto-wielding permanent members: China, France, Russia, Britain, and the U.S. The other ten, enjoying two-year terms, are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon, and Nigeria plus the newly elected Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal, and South Africa, whose term begins in January 2011.

Of these ten, India, Brazil, and South Africa already exercise global influence, and can be expected to join China and Russia in shilling for Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The three will likely also form a potent anti-American bloc of their own on the new Council. Last year, for example, only 11 percent of India's votes in the General Assembly lined up with Washington. Sixty-seven percent of South Africa's were on the opposite side. On thirteen issues identified by the State Department as "important," Brazil stood with the U.S. a total of three times. Among the other new non-permanent members, Gabon, a serial abuser of human rights, has made it a point almost never to vote with Washington.

And the Europeans? The U.S. can usually count on France, Britain, and Germany for support—except when it comes to Israel. At that point London and Paris invariably break away to take the Arab side or to abstain. The Germans, for their part, will invariably go along with the EU "consensus," at Israel's expense. Portugal's support of the Arab line on the notorious Goldstone Report probably helped it secure its new Council seat. Canada, by contrast, seems to have lost its bid precisely on account of its principled pro-Israel position.

This, then, is the environment in which the Council will monitor the ongoing Hizballah putsch in Lebanon and Hamas aggression from Gaza and, should it come to pass, consider the issue of a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood. South Africa has already declared that "the Security Council has to shoulder its responsibility for ending the Israeli occupation and [for] ensuring [that] the Palestinian people's right to self-determination is met." In a worst-case scenario, the Council could recognize the West Bank and Gaza, demarcated along the 1949 armistice lines, as "Palestine."

Prospects might appear less bleak if Israel held a Security Council seat of its own, which would enable it to participate in decisive closed-door deliberations. But, of the 192-member UN, only the Jewish state is ineligible to serve on the Council—because the Arabs will not allow it to join the regional group that is a steppingstone to Council membership. This state of affairs could become exponentially worse if decades-long efforts to enlarge the Council gain headway and result in a further dilution of Washington's ability to counter the UN's tyrannical majority. Promoting just such "structural reform" is one of India's announced priorities.

What about Jerusalem's ability to rely on Washington to defend its vital interests? Unfairly or not, worries on this score, too, are now being voiced, especially by those concerned lest the U.S. decide not to veto a declaration of unilateral Palestinian statehood. Such concerns serve further to underline the dramatic degree to which the world has changed since the victorious World War II leaders created the architecture of the Security Council. Never has the need been greater for a self-confident United States to dispel the fog of uncertainty and to spearhead the cause of nations sincerely opposed to the scourge of war and genuinely committed to human rights, social progress, and freedom.

You can find this online at:

© Copyright 2020 Jewish Ideas Daily. All Rights Reserved.